Bubuki Buranki – Review
Original Air Dates: Jan 9th, 2016 – March 26th, 2016
Synopsis: On an island floating in the sky live the Buranki, massive metal giants. There they slumber, guarded by Kazuki Migiwa and her family. However, when Migiwa’s daughter, Kaoruko, accidently wakes the sleeping Buranki, Migiwa is forced to send her husband, her daughter and her son, Azuma, back down to Earth as she quells the risen monsters. Now, ten years later, Azuma finds himself a prisoner in Japan, where he is saved by a young girl, a childhood friend, Kogane Asabuki and her living weapon, a Bubuki. Learning about the Bubuki users, and their relation to the Buranki, Azuma sets out to find a way back to his mother, and learn the truth about the world, and the Buranki themselves.
Review (Warning: Some Spoilers to Follow):
Tom: Bubuki Buranki makes no effort in holding the audience’s hand. The series starts with a lack of details and information that’s only compounded by a flash forward mid-first episode, which only increases the number of unanswered questions, many of which go either unanswered entirely or receive brief explanations in the series’ final episode. For example, two characters are introduced early on, Azuma’s father and his sister Kaoruko, but both disappear post flash-forward with none of the cast addressing their absence. Buranki does eventually become easier to follow, as it delves into some backstories here and there, and periodically divulges brief tidbits of information surrounding this futuristic world in general, but with so many nagging questions, watching Bubuki Buranki is more an exercise in frustration than enjoyment.
Linny: The show seems determined to dole out information in a haphazrd manner with flashbacks and flash forwards badly executed repeatedly. It’s chaotic and frustrating as the show never ever explains the sudden and very clear absence of the father and sister even up to the last episode. Even when the show introduces new elements, the viewer is often no better informed about it than acknowledging that hey, there’s a new character/item in the show now. There are some callbacks and flashbacks that do add to the story but they either appear really late or seem to have very limited consequences. The show struggles to properly lay down the foundation and backstory for its characters and even its basic elements.
Tom: For what information we do receive about our cast, it’s often overly dramatic, angst ridden backstories set in an ill-defined world that’s lacking important details to truly understand the significance of where each character comes from. For example, late in the series we learn the sheer extent of Migiwa’s actions prior to the series, which influences how and why Bubuki users are persecuted across the globe, information entirely absent early on that would’ve provided some much needed context to the events that each of our heroes suffered through. Compounding all of this, Bubuki isn’t content with its initial cast of characters, five heroes and five villains. Mid-season, a total of ten more characters are introduced, making the show feel creatively bankrupt when it hasn’t even properly utilized its initial cast and setting. It doesn’t help either that the series neglects to mention that each nation has its own set of Bubuki users from the start, making the revelation of nationalized Bubuki teams a complete surprise.
Linny: Maybe the show was going for dramatic surprises and reveals with its refusal to divulge information until the last minute. Maybe that’s something you would enjoy. Just be aware that the show will doggedly keep adding and removing characters until it becomes an overcrowded cacophony trying to inject new life into a dying story. Most of these characters never get any proper backstory besides an offhanded sentence or two, which incapacitates their chances of resonating with audiences, in a show where even the main character is an unconvincing enigma.
Tom: A few answers are eventually doled out in the final few episodes, mostly in the series’ finale. We learn why the Hearts of Bubuki users stopped across the globe, why Ryoko, the evil Bubuki user who rules Japan with an iron fist, hates Azuma’s mother so much, but the biggest questions, such as why Azuma’s father and sister are absent, never gets addressed. It’s odd, when Azuma finally reunites with his mother yet neither addresses this, and when the sister finally makes her appearance, she too ignores the nagging question. It’s especially infuriating as its her fault in episode one that any of this is even going down. Some pretty cool music helps to direct the audience on what emotions they should be feeling, even when the script isn’t as tight as it could be, bringing weight to scenes that, otherwise, might not hold much of a grip over you.
Linny: The show leaves you with more questions than answers throughout its entire run with characters that have questionable or under explained motives and actions. Even when it provides answers, the answers start to crumble or raise more questions when you take a second to think about them. The show is shallow, pretty to look at and even listen to but lacks a good story.
Tom: When it comes to the visuals, the CGI is a bit choppy early on, but by the end of Bubuki I have to admit it runs impressively smooth, putting the CGI team team behind Sidonia and Netflix’s upcoming Ajin to shame. Bubuki is also quite colorful with its explosions, giving Heavy Object a run for its money when it comes to visual eye candy and mayhem. Though, anyone against CGI won’t be convinced otherwise with Bubuki. It’s a step forward for sure, but lacks the hand drawn quality of traditional animation that so many flock to (ex: Myriad Colors Phantom World.) But it’s a step in the right direction, and assuming Studio Sanzigen can improve their writing, I’d been interested in seeing how far they can improve their unique style.
Linny: As Tom stated, the visuals are the best part of Bubuki Buranki. The colour palette is pastel and cutesy with darker backgrounds. The light and vibrant colours help sell the young innocence and energetic determination of the protagonists while the dim backgrounds lend to the air of doom and waste. The first episode of the show has a remarkable mix of aesthetics with the locations varying from lush countryside to abandoned cityscapes, showcasing the variety and skill of the animators. If you are a fan of CGI, you are most likely going to love looking at this show.
Tom: Bubuki Buranki is getting a second season later this year, and being focused around Azuma’s sister, perhaps some of the nagging questions get answers there. But seeing as Bubuki Buranki never once acknowledged the absence of the father or sister, it doesn’t encourage me to stick around. Bubuki Buranki isn’t a show I’d recommend, but if you’re in it more for the visuals than a coherent story, and you appreciate CGI anime, Bubuki Buranki is sure to be a visual feast.
Linny: Sadly, the beauty of its visuals still fail to save Bubuki Buranki from a weak narration style. Had the flashbacks and events been better organized and explained, this show could have been a lot more entertaining. It tries to appeal to viewers through its quirky cast but still fails to overcome its flawed execution.
Bubuki Buranki [BBK/BRNK] is available for streaming via Crunchyroll.com.